It was once hoped that the trio of Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden would lead Portland to an NBA championship.
That possibility was shattered when Roy unexpectedly decided to retire because of ongoing knee problems, Oden suffered another medical setback and Aldridge had a minor procedure to treat a heart condition.
The bad news blew up on the Trail Blazers when they opened training camp for the lockout-shortened season on Friday. But it was Roy's sudden departure that most stunned the team, their fans and the rest of the NBA.
Roy issued a statement through the Blazers on Saturday morning. The three-time All-Star said he would seek a determination that he's suffered a career-ending injury to his knees "pursuant to the rules of the collective bargaining agreement."
"My family and health are most important to me and in the end this decision was about them and my quality of life," Roy said.
The Blazers could still use the NBA's new amnesty clause to waive Roy, but as of Friday night, the team was still looking at its options, acting general manager Chad Buchanan said.
Team owner Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, also weighed in with a statement Saturday. He thanked Roy for his five seasons in Portland.
"Like every Blazer fan, I am very sad to learn that Brandon's playing days have ended. Up until Thursday night we were looking forward to seeing him back on the court Friday for the first day of practice," Allen said.
Roy has been dogged by pain for the past two seasons, explaining in the past that he lacks cartilage between the bones in his knees.
He sat for stretches of last season because of soreness and had arthroscopic surgery on both knees last January. He returned to end the season with a career-low average of 12.2 points in 47 games.
He finishes his career with averages of 19 points, 4.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds.
The sixth overall pick in the 2006 draft out of Washington, Roy was acquired by the Blazers in a draft-day trade. The 2007 NBA Rookie of the Year made the All-Star team from 2008-2010.
Nicknamed "The Natural" by the team's broadcasters, Roy has been the affable face of the franchise and remains popular among Portland fans. He helped usher the team out of the so-called "Jail Blazers" era.
Miami's Dwayne Wade paid tribute to Roy on Twitter: "I want 2 show my respect 2 1 of the best 2 guards 2day. The game will miss Brandon Roy as much as he will miss the game."
The Blazers were also blindsided by the reports about Oden, who by all accounts was progressing well after microfracture surgery on his left knee.
There was speculation that the often-injured 7-foot center might be ready to play in late January. A restricted free agent, he had even agreed to accept the Blazers' $8.9 million qualifying offer for another year with the Blazers — the team that drafted him with the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft and stood by him through numerous injuries.
But on Friday Buchanan announced Oden had suffered another setback, revealed during an MRI of his surgically repaired knee. Buchanan would not say whether Oden could need additional surgery, or whether Oden would play this season.
"We're hopeful that Greg can get back out on the court this year — maybe not quite as optimistic as we were before — but we feel like Greg Oden is worth that risk for one more year," Buchanan said.
In light of the latest developments, the Blazers and Oden agreed to a restructured one-year contract, after which Oden becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Oden hasn't appeared in a game in two years. After the Blazers drafted him out of Ohio State, he had microfracture surgery on his right knee and waited until 2008 to make his NBA debut. He also broke his left kneecap and sat out much of the 2009-10 season.
He is averaging 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in 82 career games.
To top off the Blazers' woes, Aldridge when to a routine exam by his cardiologist on Friday and it was determined that he should undergo a procedure to treat Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a condition which causes the ventricles of the heart to contract prematurely.
The Blazers say he should miss less than two weeks and should be ready for the team's opener on Dec. 26.
Aldridge was first diagnosed with the condition in 2007. He had a similar procedure, and missed the final nine games of the 2006-07 season.
Late Friday Aldridge posted to Twitter account: "Thanks for the support everybody. I'm feeling better and will be ready to go in a few days."
The 6-foot-11 forward from Texas led the team with 21.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game last season, the best averages of his five-year NBA career. He had 36 double-doubles.Comment on this story
Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers are left to embark on the lockout-shortened season with a young roster and depth questions. The Blazers are already over the salary cap, which limits their moves on the free agency market.
"I still believe in the core of this team. It's not going to be easy. We'll have to rely on some younger players to step up off the bench for us," Buchanan said. "We've been through a lot of challenges the last few years and I have no doubt (coach Nate McMillan) will rally the troops and get our guys going this year."